Sep 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: McCarthy's "Commitment to America" rollout

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks flanked by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and House Minority Whip. Steve Scalise (R-LA).
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks while flanked by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will formally unveil a four-part "Commitment to America" in Pittsburgh on Sept. 19 to tell voters why they should vote for Republicans — not just against Democrats — in November, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Remember the GOP's "Contract with America" in 1994? It made promises on cutting taxes and government and other conservative ideals and was released six weeks before President Clinton's first midterms. Republicans enjoyed massive wins that year and flipped control of the House and Senate.

What we're hearing: This document will be much smaller. It aims to give Republicans a unified message to run on in the final stretch before November, saying they are committed to:

  • "An economy that is strong": This section specifically focuses on inflation, high gas prices, supply chain issues and competition with China. McCarthy advises members to pledge to "put an end to 'Build Back Better' and eliminate wasteful government spending."
  • "A nation that is safe": With a focus on crime and immigration, Republicans vow to "secure the Southern border," "reduce crime and stop Fentanyl" and "defend our national security."
  • "A future that is free": Section headers include "make sure every kid in every neighborhood can succeed," "better care and improved health outcomes for all Americans" and "confront Big Tech and advance free speech."
  • "A government that is accountable": The final section emphasizes the extent of the oversight efforts Republicans are promising next year if they take back the majority, including a pledge to "ensure safe and fair elections."

Worth noting: The document does not reference former President Trump's false claims about the 2020 election, which are supported by hundreds of GOP nominees across the country, according to a new FiveThirtyEight analysis.

What to watch: The marching orders are accompanied by a "communications kit" that McCarthy circulated to members prior to the August recess. It includes tips on how and where to hold these conversations on the trail.

Between the lines: No one is predicting 1994-level margins of victory for the GOP this year. And McCarthy's strategy of taking back the majority differs vastly from that of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who's refused to release a legislative agenda.

  • Every midterm cycle, there are Republican donors and operatives who argue the party should release a positive, proactive governing outline around which candidates can rally — something McCarthy has embraced.
  • McConnell has indicated his strategic preference this year for keeping the focus on Democrats' failures.

State of play: The agenda reflects collaboration among not just leadership but the entire Republican conference.

  • "I've had a piece of putting this together," said Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.). "You'll have everybody from the most conservative district to the most swingiest district all pushing the same thing. So that should fire everybody up."
  • Garbarino said the contract represents "what we want to get done in the first hundred days" and tells voters that "we're planning now so we can hit the ground running on Jan. 3."

The bottom line: Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who told Axios he plans to participate in the rollout, said he's hopeful it will blunt recent Democratic momentum and put Republicans on a surer footing to retake control of the House.

  • "If you're just running on anti-Biden, well, that's not going to get you over the finish line," he said.
  • "It's going to change, a little bit, the tenor of the conversations out there."
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